Off the Rack in Missoula dance bodypaint brianna randall

Exercise on a Boat

Posted on Posted in Dance, Yoga and Fitness, Sailing

saucony tennis shoes on avocado green tiles - i hate sitting still I’m sitting in the grungy hallway of a junior high school in the suburbs of Philadelphia. The buzzing fluorescent lights highlight the 1970s avocado-green tiles, and illuminate Rob and his brother, Brent, playing volleyball in the gym a few yards ahead of me.

We’re visiting Rob’s family for a week before we head off next month. I’m quickly realizing it’s a good test case for how I’ll cope with transitioning to a boat, at least in terms of exercise. The bad news: it’s been 24 hours and I already feel antsy.

The good news: I just found the girls locker room and danced like a crazy woman to music blasting from my laptop, which made me feel much better.

One thing I’m most anxious about as we embark on our voyage is that I’ll become a bitchy and unhappy person if I can’t get enough exercise. Other people seem slightly concerned, too: for instance, my friend Heather turned to me during an Oula Dance class last week in sudden alarm, asking, “Bri! How are you going to dance on a boat?” Great question, and one that I’ve spent a lot of time pondering.

Rob playing indoor volleyball in a gym near his hometown in PA

If you know me at all, you know I don’t sit. I have a standing desk, I bike to work, I do yoga, dance, and strength training. And that’s often all in a single day (thank you, Downtown Dance Collective). Then there’s the outdoor activities that keep me sane and peaceful: hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, cross-country skiing.

Movement is a huge part of who I am and how I relate to the world. I’ve been reading Zero to Cruising and other blogs to learn how other cruisers deal. I know that sailing is active, and that I’ll use my body plenty onboard.

But I’m still anticipating that I’ll need to learn to let go of the antsy feeling that wells up when I stay put.

Off the Rack in Missoula dance bodypaint brianna randall

I’ll need to learn to breathe through the frustration of not being able to hop on my bike and ride hard uphill. Most importantly, I’ll need to be creative in the small, confined space. Pushups, lunges and sit-ups will get boring fast.

That’s why I’m planning on dancing my way across the Pacific. I might not get to make big turns or long leaps. And I won’t look nearly as cool as I did in the performance picture to the left (note: this is how I picture myself when I dance … even in grungy junior high locker rooms). But that won’t stop me from dancing on the bow — even if I have to wear a life jacket and strap myself to the mast.

Stay tuned for videos and posts on how I stay fit, sane and (hopefully) pleasant during our Pacific crossing. Meanwhile, I’m going to do a set of jumping jacks to stay pleasant here in Pennsylvania while I wait for Rob.


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7 thoughts on “Exercise on a Boat

  1. I’m so bad with videos. My attention span is about 5 seconds if there’s not a live person with me! But I love getting workout ideas from them and then modifying for myself (and my short attention span). And ILOVE the resistance bands…bringing 3. Thanks, Kelley! Keep me posted if you find any other good cure-alls for exercise on a boat.

  2. Thanks, Tasha. I’m thinking of rigging up some complicated but fun foot and arm holds from the mast to mimic TRX (since we don’t have our own boat). That’ll help me practice knots, too.

  3. I am currently going through this exact challenge! I’ve been downloading pilates videos like a mad woman and saving Self exercises from all my digital editions on my ipad so I can do them later. I read that a gallon of water weighs just over 8 lbs if you are looking for some strength training. While I already have a jump rope, I also have a resistance band as well. I’d love to get the TRX but it’s out of my budget unfortunately.

  4. My hubby and I are cruising through the Bahamas right now and I had the same worry about exercise before we left. We’ve just recently gotten into a TRX routine on board and it’s been a huge help for those days I can’t get to shore to run 🙂

    Good luck figuring out what works for you!

    Tasha (Turf to Surf)

  5. Great idea on the jumprope, Angela! I’d thought of it at some point, and then forgot to add to my “buy” list. It’s a perfect lightweight and compact solution to cardio on the boat.

  6. You will find a way to stay fit because you’re so dedicated to it. Lucky to be a dancer and yoga practitioner – you’ll be dancing, flexing, flowing, and swaying anywhere you are on the planet!

  7. I can relate! The most unfit I’ve been in all my life was as an expat. My one word of advice: jumprope. It sounds boring, and you probably won’t want to do it every day, but it can be a life saver. It’s the quickest stationary way of burning off excess energy that I know. I invented a bunch of games and competitions with myself to make it more challenging, learned various techniques, and incorporated it into circuit training. Good luck! Can’t wait to hear more about your adventures. I read every blog post you put up!

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